Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, May 29, 2017

Christian Schools & Teen Pregnancy

From the New York Times:

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

Some schools, he said, might insist pregnant students finish the school year at home. That was one option considered for Ms. Runkles. She took a two-day suspension as the Heritage board — led at the time by her father, Scott — wrestled with her fate.

Mr. Runkles, a bank vice president, recused himself from decisions involving his daughter, but ultimately he quit the board in anger over how she was treated.

“Typically, when somebody breaks a rule, you punish them at the time they break the rule. That way, the punishment is behind them and they’re moving forward with a clean slate,” he said. “With Maddi, her punishment was set four months out. It’s ruined her senior year.”

In 2009, the National Association of Evangelicals, drawing on figures from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reported that 80 percent of young evangelicals engaged in premarital sex. A spokeswoman for the evangelical group said its own research, however, suggested that the figure was much lower.

Read more here.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2017/05/christian-schools-teen-pregnancy.html

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